June is Older Americans Month, and at Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC we’d like to honor this portion of our patient population with some tips specifically geared toward the care of senior feet. As we age, changes occur in our feet. Fat pads become thinner, joints and cartilage can show signs of wear and tear and skin can become drier. These changes, however, don’t need to impede your active lifestyle. In fact, you can ensure many healthy and active years ahead for your feet if you follow the suggestions below:
1. Get in the Habit—of regular foot care, that is. Follow a daily hygiene regimen which includes washing your feet with a mild soap and drying them completely (this helps prevent athlete’s foot and other fungal infections). Use a talcum or fungal powder to keep feet dry and apply a thick moisturizer at night before bed, especially on the heels.
2. Take the Test—self-exams on your feet are an excellent way to spot problems in their earliest stages between regular podiatric appointments. Many diseases for which seniors are at a higher risk, such as arthritis or diabetes, often first reveal symptoms in the feet. Changes in sensation (or lack thereof), swelling, bruising, skin discoloration or toenail changes and, of course, pain should all be reported promptly to one of our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight or Dr. Marzana Mleczko.
3. Show Good Shoe Sense—your feet may get larger as you age. Don’t cram feet into shoes that are too small in the toe box. This increases your risk of ingrown toenails and can exacerbate toe conditions such as bunions and hammertoes. Consider extra cushioning for shock absorption and be sure the shoes you choose have strong arch and ankle support.
4. Pick your Plate—the foods you eat can have a big impact on your feet. Eat a nutrient-rich diet and avoid white sugars, processed and fried foods as much as possible. Not only do these add extra pounds which can hurt your feet, they are also linked with increased inflammation in joints.
5. Stay in Shape—a regular exercise plan will help maintain a healthy weight and also increase flexibility and range of motion in your feet and ankles.